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Hard Core Films for the Younger Generation
by Shelly Schoeneshoefer

I only saw one film for children under the age of 14 and I was surprised at how emotionally scary this film seemed since there is a real bogeyman and a child is abducted. In Mommo (The Bogeyman), director Atalay Tasdiken reveals the horrifying realities of a small village in Anatolia where the boogeyman lives in the hearts of children. The boy Ahmet (Mehmet Bulbul) and his sister Ayse (Elif Bulbul) are seriously afraid of their future since they see that their aging grandfather (Mete Donmezer) who is raising them is financially strapped. The children suspect that the bogeyman is lurking near by and pleading to their unemotional father who has remarried to rescue them. The film is based on a true story where these children are literally traumatized when separated, leaving scars for life.  During the question-and-answer section it was clear that the children really could not grasp what happened at the end of this film.

One of the Generation 14 plus programs includes the Swedish film Di I taket lyser stjarnorna (Glowing Stars) by Lisa Siwe. This is a book-based storywhere 14-year-old Jenna (Josefine Mattsson) must find a balance between her adolescent mood swings and the hard facts of cancer, which are facing her mother (Annika Hallin). Luckily she meets Ullis (Mika Berndtsdotter Ahlenis), a popular girl who guides her teenage experiences such as bra stuffing, first experiences with alcohol and partying as well as dealing with the hidden anger that she has for her mother.

Dutch director Milke De Jong presented a film where the main character doesn’t even have a name. We only find out who she is by the end of the film Katia’s Sister.  It is a demoralizing view into the life of a Russian prostitute (Olga Louzgina) and her two daughters, Katia (Julia Sejikens) who becomes a drug-addicted exotic dancer and Katia’s sister ((Lucia) Betty Qizmolli) who becomes interested in a Jesus follower and then uses her sister’s techniques to seduce him but fails. Despite her age, Katia’s sister is the glue of the family, always trying to pick up the pieces. This film gives confused teenagers a chance to see what life is like on the streets. This movie has the feel of a Flannery O’Connor book, strange and disturbing.

The next disturbing movie was Voy A Explotar (I’m Gonna Explode) by Mexican director Gerardo Naranjo, where Maru (Maria Deschamps) and Roman (Juan Pablo de Santiago) make a promise to find the other if they become separated. “Freedom is in your head,” they shout as they go on a wild adventure across the country.  The film is extreme and a potential violent moment is hovering over them waiting to take place. The film is like a rope being wound tighter and tighter until there is no more flexibility left.

The film that was also very realistic but was at least optimistic since it recognizes the human spirit was I Know You Know by director, Justin Kerrigan. I have everything under control.  You only need to tell me what I have to do to get us out of here. From the beginning it is clear that Charlie’s (Arron Fuller) father (Robert Carlyle) is on a mission and it seems that he is working for some secret organization that will give Jamie and his father a new life.  Director Justin Kerrigan gives us a glimpse into his childhood where is father was mentally unbalanced and tried to destroy the Astrosat satellite dish company which ruined his travel business originally. Kerrigan said that his childhood was scary but exciting.  He said it was hard to turn his father over to the authorities but his father was bombing cars and becoming more unpredictable.  He wanted to make this film not show a crazy father but to show a father who loved his son, a tragic story which will touch your heart.

If children/teenage films which cover everything from prostitution, drugs, alcohol and deadly illness, and not to mention My Suicide which won the Crystal Bear, are a reflection of our current condition in this world, I wonder what hope do we have for the future of our children.  And what will the kiddies watch next year for entertainment?